This scene of Castle Rock in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, which forms the border between Oregon and Washington states, made me want to go for a visit. It would have been a search in vain though, since Castle Rock no longer exists. Well, the basalt monolith still exists, but it is now called Beacon Rock. Originally named Beaten Rock by Lewis and Clark in 1805 as they headed down the Columbia on their expedition west to the Pacific, the name was later changed to Beacon Rock, then Castle Rock, then back to Beacon Rock in 1916.
Henry Biddle purchased the 848’ tall rock column in 1915 for $1, then spent the next three years building an approximately mile long series of switch-backed trail and bridges up the near vertical south face to the summit. Views of the gorge along the way and from the top are spectacular, if a bit vertigo inducing. A volcanic plug, Beacon Rock is the solidified lava core of a larger volcanic cone, the softer remainder of which was washed away during the ice age by the Missoula floods.
In the early 1930s, the Army Corps of Engineers looked at all of that rock--essentially a vertical quarry--at the river’s edge, and decided they should blow it up to supply material for a jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River. They got as far as digging three caves at the base for explosives, before the Biddle family gave the property to Washington to be used as a state park (Washington originally refused the gift, so the Biddles offered it to Oregon instead, at which point Washington reconsidered….).
In more recent history, Daily Postcard author Christine was in a Portland book club with Helene Biddle Dick, granddaughter of Henry. And when my father passed away, I buried his watch at the top of Beacon Rock, as I felt that it offered a view of timeless beauty in every direction.
The double-entendre of the second card made more sense when I read the back and saw it was intended for WWII soldiers.
Christine on her way up the switchback trail--hang onto your hat!
The view of the Columbia River Gorge from the Beacon Rock summit is lovely, even on a cold, misty day.
Here's the back of the first card.